Obama and Clinton fetes McCartney
Paul McCartney was one of five artists honoured by the Kennedy Centre with US President Barack Obama paying tribute to the former Beatle and his fellow award winners..
When McCartney was at the height of his Fab Four fame, his fellow Kennedy laureates were experiencing different fortunes.
Oprah Winfrey had the band's poster on her bedroom wall, country singer Merle Haggard was free from prison, Jerry Herman was making Broadway sing and Bill T. Jones was not yet a dancer but growing up in a migrant labour camp.
But all five stood together in Washington to receive their accolades from Mr Obama.
"Although the honourees on this stage each possess a staggering amount of talent, the truth is, they aren't being recognised tonight simply because of their careers as great lyricists or songwriters or dancers or entertainers," Mr Obama said.
"Instead, they're being honoured for their unique ability to bring us closer together and to capture something larger about who we are - not just as Americans, but as human beings."
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had hosted a dinner on Saturday for the laureates, along with visiting celebrities, including Gwen Stefani, Julia Roberts, Claire Danes and Steven Tyler from Aerosmith.
The guests also included veteran entertainers Carol Channing, Angela Lansbury and Sidney Poitier.
Mrs Clinton marvelled at the diverse "genres and generations" of artists.
"I am writing a cable about it, which I'm sure you'll find soon on your closest website," she joked after a week of dealing with fallout from the WikiLeaks release of confidential diplomatic dispatches.